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Carthagods - The Monster in Me Award winner

The Monster in Me
by Justin "Witty City' Wittenmeier at 19 May 2019, 3:50 AM

CARTHAGODS is a Progressive Metal from Tunisia (a scene that seems to be taking off quite well) having just released “The Monster In Me,” the title of their second full length album.  I can tell you with certainly, this album is a barn burner and one hell of a release.  As far as Progressive Power Metal goes, this is the best album I’ve heard so far this year.  Every song is just bursting at the seems with powerful riffs, undeniable energy, and an overall slick presentation that commands attention from the very start. The whole band is on fire—especially the vocalist Mahdi Keham.  His throaty, expressive clean vocals really hit the spot at the right moments within the songs.  His voice is explosive and powerful….I would describe him as a mixture of Russell Allen and Jorn Lande but makes it all his own.

Musically, the music is a combination of just about everything.  Guitarists Sassi and Somers are constantly changing up the style.  Chug riffs, heavy choppers, groove, and everything between is thrown out into their audio assault—these guys can play anything and they do so while making it seem both effortless and adventurous. The first track, “Whispers From The Wicked,” features guest vocals from Mikael Stanne, vocalist of legendary DARK TRANQUILLITY.  He sounds at the top of his game and his Death screams/growls work extremely well with KHEMA.  The chorus is catchy as well, especially the second time it is presented because it is laced with keyboards.  Throughout the album, the keys are expertly used—they are never overdone and always highlight and bring attention to the passages they appear in rather than become the focus.  In essence, “The Monster In Me,” is an album that uses symphonic keyboards better than most symphonic bands.

Speaking of which, Mark Jansen from symphonic Metal power house EPICA appears on “The Last Sigh.”  His vocal assault, much like with Mikael, works well within the context of the song.  His vocal lines are backed by guitars and keys that cleverly interplay with each other.  This track further proved how well Death growls can be placed with a band of this style—I’m hoping this is an element they continue to play with on future releases. The title track, “The Monster In Me,” is a sterling example of how to balance Progressive, Power, and Traditional Metal to create a hard hitting song that sticks in your head for days.

The only real issue I have with the album is some of the songs can get a little repetitive. Although it is a great track, “The Devil’s Dolls,” has some “Whoa, whoa” vocal chants that are done too often. “The Rebirth,” is one hell of a power ballad that packs quite a punch, especially with the lead guitar work but, again, lyrics are repeated a little too much towards the end. The band is at their best when they flesh the songs a little more, such as in “Memories Of Never Ending Pains,” at seven and a half minute epic.  The song’s tempo and mood swings around—the beginning is heartfelt and melodic, with soft vocals and clean instrumentation.  The song gets heavy with intricate guitar work before going into an atmospheric mid-section that springs loose a killer, melodic solo that allows the song to grow larger by the second into a wall of melodic pro that sweeps over you.

Hopefully, this album gets the attention it so richly deserves.  I can tell that CARTHAGODS put their all into this album and they still aren’t out of ideas yet.  I cannot wait to see what they come up with next.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Whispers From The Wicked
2. The Monster In Me
3. The Devil’s Dolls
4. The Rebirth
5. A Last Sigh
6. Cry Out For The Land
7. Memories Of Never Ending Pains
8. The Rebirth (Orchestral)
Mahdi Khema – Vocals
Tarak Ben Sassi – Guitars
Aymen Ben Hamed – Drums
Yessine Belghith – Bass
Timo Somers – Guitars
Record Label: Darkside Records


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Edited 20 September 2019

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